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HMRC Senior Executives - Conduct Unbecoming? Print E-mail
Written by Lee Sharpe   
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 00:00

Many will already be aware of HMRC's somewhat less than inspiring reaction to the whistle-blowing activity which exposed the 2010 deal to "forgive and forget" the interest on a significant avoidance strategy allegedly undertaken by investment banker Goldman Sachs. Invoking anti-terrorism legislation to access the phone records of employees and their relatives... not good.

One might suggest that, if protecting the public's interest were truly at the heart of HMRC's executives' endeavours, they must have meant instead to investigate the HMRC employee who agreed the deal, rather than the person who brought it to the attention of the Public Accounts Committee. (To be clear, I don't suspect Mr. Hartnett of anything untoward either: compromise is implicit in negotiations, which are absolutely not enjoyed solely by multi-nationals. But surely HMRC's greater concern must have been with the alleged loss of £20 million, not the potential loss of face? No?)

A simple clerical error, then. Such mistakes abound. Slip of the pen, slip of the tongue.

For instance, in a statement recently given to the Public Accounts Committee about whistle-blowing, Lin Homer, HMRC's Chief Executive, said "we worked very hard to balance that pressure [on the whistle-blower] and create an environment in which he felt able to continue". (page 22)

But later, the Chair of the PAC refers to "an exchange of endless e-mails" between the Chief Executive and other senior HMRC officers, "trying to prevent him returning to his place of work". (page 24)

"Able to continue", "Unable to continue": it's an easy mistake to make. The rest of that section of the oral evidence report makes for interesting, and frankly unpalatable, reading, from a tax perspective. So much, er, "flannel", in PAC parlance, so little time.

Budget 2014: Grant Thornton UK's Budget Summary Print E-mail
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Written by Grant Thornton   
Wednesday, 19 March 2014 00:00

Grant Thornton's review of the 2014 Budget

10 Key Facts About Updated “Tax-Free” Childcare Regime Print E-mail
Personal Taxes
Written by Lee Sharpe   
Tuesday, 18 March 2014 00:00


  1. Works in a similar fashion to the Basic Rate Tax Relief mechanism for personal pensions or Gift Aid: pay in £0.80 for every £1 and the government will contribute £0.20 to the pot.
  2. Unlike with personal pensions or Gift Aid, there appears to be no Higher Rate relief to claim through Self Assessment.
  3. For each child, the maximum government contribution is £2,000 – meaning that parents will have to pay in £8,000 per child to maximise the contribution. This is an increase of £800 per child on the original announcement.
  4. In a further improvement to the original scheme, implementation will be accelerated as it will be rolled out to under-12s within the first year, starting in Autumn next year.
  5. Applies to registered / approved childcare provision, including nurseries, childminders, nannies and school-based care.
  6. Available only where both parents work, or where the sole parent works – no relief where a parent stays at home.
  7. Available to self-employed as well as employed parents providing earnings exceed £50 per week – there is a “start-up period” for self-employed where the minimum income limit will not apply.
  8. Those with incomes exceeding £150,000 will be ineligible.
  9. The current Employer-Supported Childcare Schemes (ESC) will continue but will be closed to new members from August 2015. Those remaining in ESC may transfer to the new Scheme but will have to leave ESC.
  10. Those wanting to take advantage of the new Scheme will have to open an online account with NS&I, pay into the account and the government will contribute on a quarterly basis.
1 Million More to Pay 40% Tax Under Current Government? Print E-mail
Personal Taxes
Written by Lee Sharpe   
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 00:00

The Independent Newspaper has reported that it expects the 2014 Budget is likely to result in even more people being "eligible" to pay the 40% tax rate, thanks to an anticipated below-inflation 1% rise in the Higher Rate Threshold. Continuing to maintain the Threshold, or to raise it only slightly, is projected to drag a further 400,000 taxpayers into the 40% net - a total of 1.1 million since 2010, according to the newspaper, reporting on research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

It also predicts that the Personal Allowance will be increased to £10,500.

However, it is also widely reported that the government is under pressure from its own benches to ease the tax burden for middle-income families.

HMRC Reminder to Fix Protection for High-Value Pension Funds by 5 April Print E-mail
Personal Taxes
Written by Lee Sharpe   
Thursday, 06 March 2014 00:00

HMRC is reminding taxpayers and agents that claims to "Fix the Protection" for pension funds with values in excess of the reduced Lifetime Allowance (soon to be reduced from £1.5 million to £1.25 million) must be submitted by 5 April 2014.

There is an online application form in order to submit a claim; there are of course significant restrictions on any further pension savings which can be made if Fixed Protection is granted.

Further information can be found at Reminder to Submit Fixed Protection 2014 Applications by 5 April 2014.

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